Egyptian army ousts prime minister: from the archive, 9 September 1952

Victory for military extremists in Egypt sees Aly Maher ousted and General Naguib installed as prime minister

General Naguib, who yesterday assumed the post of Prime Minister and Minister of War, as well as that of Commander-in-Chief of the Egyptian forces, has now rounded up more political leaders to join the fifty he had caused to be arrested yesterday. He also held his first Cabinet meeting in Cairo this morning.

What the General intends to do with his political prisoners is not yet clear. The bag is a very mixed one. While it might well be that the secretary-general of the Wafd party, Serag ed-Din, and other politicians with dubious records might be faced with a court of inquiry into the means by which they amassed their considerable fortunes, it seems hardly likely that men like Naguib Hilaly, the former Independent Prime Minister, Mortada Moraghy, or the four arrested Saadist leaders will be submitted to similar treatment.

Hilaly’s crime may be no graver than that he was the last Prime Minister to serve ex-King Farouk and accepted the latter’s brother-in-law as War Minister in his Cabinet. The Saadist leaders’ offence may be the strong action that their party took against the Moslem Brotherhood after one of the brotherhood’s members had assassinated Nokrashy Pasha, the Saadist Prime Minister, in 1948. If that is so it must be regarded as a measure of the influence exerted on General Naguib by the extremists among his supporters. He has included two extreme Nationalists in his new Cabinet.

There is another more substantial reason for thinking that yesterday’s developments were a triumph for the extremists in the military movement. The chief reason for the resignation of Aly Maher from the Premiership seems to have been his dispute with General Naguib over the question of agrarian reform. Aly Maher was by no means opposed to the principle of land reform, but he favoured approaching the problem with some care and after taking the advice of independent experts on the best means of putting the necessary reforms into practice. He was apprehensive concerning the damage that ill-considered and hasty action might have on Egypt’s economy.

Aly Maher must also, of course, have been under considerable pressure from the landowners to resist the more far-reaching reforms. But it seems to be equally clear that General Naguib has been under pressure from his own extremists to force the pace. That he allowed the dispute to result in the resignation of Aly Maher seems to indicate a triumph for these extremists.

According to Cairo reports to-day the new Government under General Naguib is expected to push through the land reforms, limiting the size of individual land holdings to two hundred acres, within the next two or three days.

There is still no official comment in London on the latest development in the Egyptian political revolution. Little surprise is expressed at the turn events have taken since it had been clear for some little time that tension between Aly Maher and the military movement over agrarian reform and the measures against corruption in the political parties was steadily growing. Aly Maher was reported to have threatened to resign ten days ago over the land reform problem.

The evidence of the growing influence of the extremists in the military movement and the dislike in principle of the substitution of a military dictatorship for a parliamentary administration has caused officials here to doubt whether the latest development will lead towards greater stability in Egypt. © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds